Homemade Face Scrubs – What you need to know

Face scrubs and skin care are an essential part of maintaining your overall beauty, for both men and women. As our skin ages, it looses collagen and elastin and eventually wrinkles. The rate at which our skin cells renew (approximately 40,000 cells per minute in children and young adults) slows down dramatically too. Therefore, exfoliating regularly throughout your life is an excellent way to stay on top of your skins’ regeneration process.  In addition to staying ahead of the curve, exfoliation also helps with:
    Acne prevention
    • Wrinkle reduction
    • Creating smaller pores
    • Enhancing absorption of moisturizers
   • Improving blood circulation
    • Brightening of the skin
Most dermatologists will not recommend using a facial scrub everyday. Some will  suggest once a week, others say every other day. It largely depends on your skin type and PH, and sensitivity. Otherwise, overuse can result in dryness and potentially damaged skin, as well as depleting your skin of its essential oils. It is also important to make sure your exfoliating product is made specifically for the face, since more generic body exfoliants may contain a harsher abrasive material that will damage gentle facial tissue.

How should I use my face scrub?

Skin care professionals recommend using a quarter-sized amount of your face scrub and applying by hand, massaging gently into your skin in a circular motion. A pad can also be used for application.

Avoid applying face scrub to your eye lids and give extra attention to your forehead, cheeks and chin, as these areas tend to collect dead skin cells more often than other areas.

So what exactly goes into face scrubs?

Ingredients will vary slightly from product to product, though all will contain the same basic components. These are oils, moisturizing agents and of course, the exfoliant. Believe it or not, many will contain sugar. When applied to the skin, sugar reacts to the upper most layer of the epidermis in such a way that releases dead skin cells, therefore making exfoliating easier, leaving the younger, live skin cells exposed.
Any type of sugar is beneficial to the skin since all contain exfoliating crystals of various sizes. Sugar is cheap, readily available and is commonly found in many homemade face scrubs. More on homemade scrubs later.
Other common ingredients in face scrubs include aromatics such as:
   • Sweet almond oil
   • Orange and tangerine oil
   • Apricot shell powder
  • Chamomile
  • Brazilian nut, macadamia and safflower seed oil
   • Various fruit pulps and seeds
Many scrubs will contain rejuvenating antioxidants such as Vitamins A, E and C. Carotene, a moisturizing agent and colorant, is another commonly used antioxidant.

What exactly is the exfoliant?

There are many different types of materials used as the exfoliant, some recommended more than others by dermatologists. The most common include:

 Ground tree and fruit products

The most common fruit used in face scrubs is the apricot. Apricots’ grainy texture make it a perfect exfoliating base, while apricot seeds are believed to have incredible health benefits including the ability to kill cancer cells. Ground walnut shells are also common exfoliants found in face scrubs, though some dermatologists will advise against them since their sharp edges can cause microscopic cuts and scratches on the skin.

Aluminum Oxide

Aluminum oxide is commonly found in microdermabrasion treatments and is comprised of tiny abrasive crystals. Some skincare professionals will suggest not using aluminum oxide since it is a fairly aggressive exfoliator, while other professionals suggest minimal use, such as once a week.

Polyethylene Beads

Polyethylene (the most common type of plastic) beads are among the most widely produced exfoliants. They are more gentle than the sharp fruit byproducts and are round with a smooth and waxy feel.  On a side note regarding polyethylene, there has been a recent surge in awareness linking this product to waste water and its adverse affects on marine life.  
Many environmentalists are making the argument that these beads, designed to be flushed down the drain, are ending up in the food supply of many fish and other marine species and are greatly contributing to the decline in ocean life.  This of course, has not been 100% proven, though environmentalists are urging a general awareness of the use of polyethylene in many widely used cosmetic procucts.  


Acids can be used in scrubs as an additive to exfoliants. Acids will be less abrasive than beads (organic or not) but will achieve the same effect by exfoliating with chemicals. These chemicals will loosen and remove dead skin cells without the possibility of skin damage caused by harsher materials, yet still leave the skin renewed. Facial peels also exfoliate with various chemicals. More on peels later.

Making Your Own Face Scrub

Who isn’t looking to save a little extra money nowadays? With virtually everything we consume on a daily basis becoming increasingly more and more expensive, a great place to start saving is on things we need and use often. Homemade face scrubs are becoming very popular and are easier to make than you might think.

Many health conscious consumers nowadays are choosing to make their own face scrubs due to the high amount of chemicals found in beauty products. There are some (St. Ives, Human Nature and Burt’s Bees for example) that contain 100% (or close to it) natural exfoliants and extracts and zero oils.

As we discussed earlier, scrubs are comprised of a base (oil and/or a moisturizer) and an exfoliant. When making your own face scrub, these two basic ingredients can be found in almost any household. If you choose oil as your base, you can use any of the following, all of which are readily available:

Olive oil

Olive oil has many properties that make it great, not only on your salad, but also on your skin. The chemical composition of olive oil is very similar to that of our skin, making it easily absorbed and a great natural moisturizer. Its antioxidants also aid in our skins’ natural production of elastin and collagen, two every important components of healthy, young-looking skin.

Not only does olive oil have a extensive history in the culinary field, but it was also used in cosmetic and medicinal applications for centuries, dating back to 400 B.C. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used it in perfume and as an emollient.

Believe it or not, olive oil can be used as a makeup remover too. This is because most makeup is oil based, and due to the law of chemistry, “like dissolves like,” oil will break down makeup. Not all will work as well as store- bought removers though.

Some people also find that using olive oil (since it is a heavier oil) will leave an unwanted oily residue on their skin, making it more desirable to people prone to dry skin. If you desire a base that is fairly mild in scent and not too heavy, olive oil should be avoided.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil, as with many other oils, has significant health benefits. Sunflower oil can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, ease and prevent rheumatoid arthritis and helps maintain a healthy nervous system.

In addition to these benefits, its antioxidants and Vitamin E helps cells retain water and therefore stay moisturized.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a liquid wax derived from the Jojoba shrub native to Central America. Native Americans used it to treat sores, cuts, bruises, burns and other skin conditions.  It is another very versatile oil, though less common than those above. It is considered valuable by the skincare industry for several reasons. It penetrates the skin quickly, leaves a non-greasy feeling, and the tocopherols in jojoba oil act as preservatives.

When choosing jojoba oil in your local pharmacy, make sure the maker says it is “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” meaning a minimal amount of heat was used in its processing. It is also important your jojoba oil is golden in color and has a light aroma. If not, its naturally healthy qualities have most likely been filtered out during processing.

Castor oil

Castor oil, an extremely versatile type of vegetable oil and derivative of the castor bean, can be added to your homemade face scrub.  Most people may think of castor oils’ role in petroleum-based automotive products such as brake fluid, lubricating oils, plastics and sealants.

Let this not deter you from its medicinal properties though. The FDA has deemed castor oil to be “generally safe and effective.” It is present in many lip stick, lip balm and shampoo products and is commonly used for skin disorders due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties as well as its ability to penetrate the skin, aiding with conditioning and moisturizing.

In addition to the oils listed above, other commonly used oils in homemade face scrubs include grapeseed oil and avocado oil.

If you choose not to have oil as your base, an aloe vera gel, aqueous cream or other emollient can be substituted. Fruit pulps are commonly used too. These include:


Be sure to include both the “meat” of the fruit and the seeds.

Custard Apple

Indigineous to Central America and also known as Bull’s Hearts, custard apples have a granular texture beneath their thin but tough skin, making them a great base and exfoliant in one. Cream or yogurt can be added to your face scrub and will act as a natural bleach and lighten marks on your skin. Custard apples are also high in Vitamin A, which is necessary in keeping your skin (and hair) healthy.

Papaya Fruit

This enzyme-rich fruit makes a great homemade face scrub because of its grainy texture and small seeds. Be sure to crush the seeds for maximum exfoliation. When mixed with a bit of honey, it makes a great face mask.

Softer fruits can be used too but you may need to add an additional exfoliator like white or brown sugar, coffee grinds or oatmeal powder.

These fruits include:

  • Bananas
  • Mangos
  • Jackfruit

Whatever you choose for ingredients for your homemade face scrub, you’ll be sure to save money and avoid many nasty chemicals found in so many products we put on and in our bodies.

There is a wealth of information out there on this topic.. Best of luck in your search for the homemade face scrub that works best for you!

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